We have had to spend a full two days at the hospital before going home because, for those familiar with labor and delivery, I was GBS positive and didn’t have time to receive the antibiotics before Forest was born. I took the opportunity of these quieter hours to write up a short birth story — because who knows how much time I’ll have for anything once I get home!
My due date was May 19, but some ultrasounds had indicated that my due date might actually be May 17. After I fell on a slippery road two weeks ago, though, and no baby came, Elliott was beginning to feel like “the baby will never be born!” and “you might be pregnant forever!” I had such a long to-do list around the house, however, that I was in no rush for our baby to arrive any sooner than he wanted to. In a family poll guessing his due date, I said June 1, which would be exactly one day less than 42 weeks overdue. Maybe I was a little too generous with that estimation…
My mom arrived May 16, and at that point I felt ready to welcome the baby anytime, since she could take care of Lena and Gil at a moment’s notice. I still had some things I wanted to do — attend a final MOPS meeting, freeze a few meals if I had time, get a manicure and pedicure! — but mostly I was just relaxing and ready.
The night of May 17, we hosted a large group of friends for dinner that were visiting from India and L.A. Elliott and I went to bed that night feeling tired and ready to sleep, and with no premonitions of what was to come. Elliott didn’t ask me if anything had changed (like he usually did 5xs/day), and I was glad he didn’t because I’d been noticing a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions once I got into bed. Could this be the early stages of labor? I didn’t want to get Elliott’s hopes up!
I woke up around 3am with steady but painless little contractions. When I timed them, they were about three minutes apart and lasting a minute. After about 30 minutes, Elliott woke up, we talked and finally began to gather a few final things to go to the hospital. It seemed early to go, despite the steady contractions, because I wasn’t in any pain.
Unfortunately, when we got up to pack, the contractions seemed to stop. Arg! We were so discouraged. Was this just a tease?
We got back into bed, and my contractions had slowed down, but now they were getting more painful. Elliott timed them for about 15 minutes while I began to get a little worried that maybe now we’d waited too long. When we got out of bed this time, my teeth were chattering, and I told Elliott, “I think I’m in transition,” or getting very close to pushing. Elliott quickly woke my mom, we threw a few things in the car, and — at 5:20 am — we were on our way!
Within 15 minutes, we walked onto the labor and delivery floor, with Elliott carrying bags and pillows and a giant yoga ball, and me walking in a daze. A nurse brought us into a waiting room and asked us to fill out some admission paperwork, and I grabbed onto a chair during a painful contraction while Elliott said, “I think it’s too late for that.”
I didn’t have time to talk about my ‘birth plan,’ which it is why it is especially incredible how the next hour unfolded. I wanted to request the midwife on call be in charge of the delivery, and I wanted a quiet birthing experience with just a nurse and a midwife in the room. I didn’t want an epidural or other meds, and I preferred to do things naturally and peacefully at my own pace. My friend and nurse Melissa facilitated a wonderful birth for us and Gil in Sicily, and I was hoping to have something like that for this baby.
Anyway, there I was, ready to push within 5 minutes of arriving on the floor. Just then, a woman walked into the room and introduced herself as the midwife, and I recognized her as a friendly, kind woman who’d done our baby’s 9-week ultrasound last October. Together, she and one nurse took over our care, and there was no one else in the room. The midwife, Sarah, asked me what I wanted to do to be comfortable, and she never once asked if I wanted an epidural. She facilitated a comfortable position for me and cheerfully coached me through delivery.
For me, pushing is my least favorite part of labor because I don’t have an urge to push like most women. I just have to tell myself, “OK, here’s a contraction, let’s do this” over and over. Elliott and the midwife were both laughing at my resigned attitude towards the task ahead of me each time I felt a contraction and prepared to push. I wasn’t in much pain, though, and since I didn’t have much choice in the matter, we made steady progress. Within about 30 minutes, Elliott lifted our son up for me to hold!
Elliott both got to deliver the baby and cut the cord, and then we were able to take him in. The relief and emotional rush of those first few minutes with our brand new baby are incomparable. Over the next hour, as he snuggled close, skin to skin, and then began to nurse with effortless instinct, I thanked God over and over and over. I had felt anxious towards the end of this pregnancy, but here our baby was — 10 fingers, 10 toes, wonderfully and fearfully made. Thank you, thank you, thank you God!
Once we settled in our recovery room, the urgent question became, “What shall we name him?” We had thought about many names for a long time, but we kept coming back to both Forest and Everett. In the end, we loved the combination of the two, as well as the strength of the name itself.
We called him Forest because he came into being last August when Elliott and I went on a hiking trip in the High Sierra backcountry of Yosemite. His life began in a forest! We also hope and pray that he will love and care for Creation and its Creator God all the days of his life.
Everett is a family name on my side, and Elliott has also always looked up to and admired C. Everett Koop, former Surgeon General of the United States, who tied together his faith, work, and public service in admirable ways, and who Elliott met when he was a little boy. Mostly, though, I just really like the name Everett!
Forest has had some eager little visitors here at the hospital, and watching my parents and our children with him has been so sweet! Lena loves holding him quietly in bed and watching him and asking questions, and Gil meanwhile bounces around him like a rambunctious puppy, digs in his blankets for his feet, his nose or eyes before we can stop him, and overall terrifies us somewhat with his tough love. It’s going to be an exciting adventure when we get home….
I am so SO grateful for my mom. She’s taken incredible, creative, and energetic care of Lena and Gil, meaning that both Elliott and I can stay at the hospital and bond with Forest. The first night in the hospital, Elliott brought me sushi and champagne, and we had a celebratory feast. The second night we both held Forest and ate popcorn and watched Shakespeare in Love. Almost a vacation!
And now, Elliott and Forest, let’s go home and let the wild rumpus start!